F.A.Q. | All the answers for Ski The Tasman
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How and When
Every fine day from 1 July to 30 September.
Conditions are colder and we get more 'powder' days through July to mid-August. September offers great corn which is perfect for first-time off-piste skiers.
Intermediate level skiers, able to ski “blue“ runs at ski areas can ski the Tasman. A moderate level of fitness is required.
The runs are not difficult and the terrain varies between open snowfields, deep bowls, and ‘canyons’ between seracs. Side adventures to visit amazing ice caves and natural ice features are a highlight of the trip.
What are the group sizes?
Small. We guide small groups of 3 to 7 skiers. Your party is always accompanied by a professional mountain/ski guide.
Skis, Equipment, and Rental Gear
Special gear is not required for ski the Tasman. Dress in what you normally take to a ski area, but remember it will be colder at the altitudes we operate.
Skis: We recommend skis with 90mm width under foot
- Ski goggles or quality sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen
- A small backpack. This is useful for carrying water, sunscreen, and a spare pair of gloves
- Your camera. This is something you don't want to miss.
- Helmets are optional - there are no rocks!
Alpine Guides rents powder skis of various makes, models, and sizes, ideal for snow conditions on the glacier.
Boot sizes range from approximately Euro size 33 through to 48.
We will fit hire skis after morning registration. You don't need to arrange fitting earlier.
RENTAL RATES 2017
Skis, boots, and poles: NZ$75/day
Bringing your own gear
Good skiers with off-piste experience can bring their own equipment - downhill, AT, or telemark skis. If you are renting skis elsewhere, please make sure they are well waxed.
How long does Ski The Tasman take?
First flights on to the glacier depart by 10:30 am in July and around 10:00 am in August and September. Skiers should be back at Mount Cook Airport between 15:30 to 16:00.
A standard day - all times are approximate:
- 07:00 Weather and conditions check by guides
- 08:15 Registration and payment opens
- 09:00 Rental ski gear organised - at Mt Cook Airport
- 09:30 Each group is given a safety briefing and issued with avalanche transceivers. First aircraft depart for the glacier
- 13:00 Lunch
- 15:00 First aircraft return to Mount Cook Airport
How Long are the Runs?
Very long! Run length varies with the amount of snow cover. The average is 8 km (5 miles) , and up to 10 km (6.2 miles) when snow cover is at its greatest extent. See the terrain map for more details →
Guest Safety and Equipment
Guest safety is our priority and in every decision we make in the mountains assumes safety above all else.
Although the chance of an avalanche on the Tasman is very remote, all guests and guides wear an avalanche transceiver. Guides also carry a radio and a rescue pack.
All guests (regardless of experience) will receive a safety briefing from their guide - including how to use an avalanche transceiver - before boarding the first aircraft flight of the day.
Our guides are trained in emergency first aid, mountain survival, and rescue.
Individuals are welcome to book, but we need a minimum of 3 total bookings to operate. Ski The Tasman ex-Queenstown requires 4 bookings in order to operate.
When should I book?
We recommended booking 3-4 weeks in advance for Ski The Tasman in August (our peak month). At other times at least 3 to 4 days advance booking is recommended.
Children. Are there age restrictions, or a minimum age?
Ski The Tasman is family-friendly, but glacier skiing can be beyond younger children. The minimum age is 10 years, and is dependent on the child's ability. Supervising adults must be prepared to ski at the pace of their children.
What if the weather turns bad?
Ski The Tasman operates only in "fine weather". There is no booking fee if we cannot operate due to poor weather.
Fine weather means high visibility and light to moderate wind. On average we operate 4 days per week.
The decision to operate (or not) is made by around 07:15 each day. However, if you stay in Mt Cook Village we can take advantage of late weather clearances, and start later.
New Zealand has a temperate maritime climate, and very changeable weather patterns. We encourage you to have flexibility in your plans. We can "carry over" bookings to the following day if requested.
If conditions change and we can only ski one run there will be a refund of NZ$275 per person.
In the unlikely event conditions mean we can only ski one run guests are entitled to a refund of $275 per person. Refunds are not due to guests who elect to shorten the day due to fitness, lack of ability, or injury.
Snow conditions | What will the snow be like?
All snow is ungroomed and variable. Powder is more common in July, through mid August. Spring conditions are typical through September. However, the Tasman can get a fresh powder top-up with any winter storm. New Zealand’s temperate maritime climate means conditions change quickly, even over a single day!
Snowboarders | Can I bring my snowboard?
Sorry, no. Ski The Tasman is for skiers only. The terrain down the length of the glacier is not suited to snowboarding. Some traversing is required through the icefall areas, and lower sections of the glacier are not steep enough for easy riding.
Where is Mt Cook Airport ?
We fly from Mount Cook Airport. This is 5 km (3.1 miles) from Mount Cook village. We can provide free return transfers from Mount Cook village, if required.
What kind of aircraft are used?
Mount Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters provide aircraft for Ski The Tasman. We use Pilatus Porters and Cessna 185 aircraft fitted with retractable skis. If landing conditions are not suitable for fixed wing aircraft, AS350 B2 “Squirrel” Helicopters can be used.
- Pilatus Porter: up to 7 skiers plus guide & pilot
- Cessna 185: up to 3 skiers plus guide & pilot
- B2 Squirrel Helicopter: up to 5 skiers plus guide & pilot
Accommodation at Mount Cook
During winter Aoraki/Mt Cook area has fewer visitors and special rates can apply. This quiet alpine village makes a wonderful escape from the busy ski towns.